Fifty years after Richard C. Wade’s pioneering study of slavery in American cities, the term “urban slave” still reads as a paradox when considered in light of a popular culture that has made the rolling fields and white columns of the plantation house – rather than the crowded lot and narrow façade of the townhouse – the representative site of enslavement. This panel attempts to unsettle these associations, to complicate the fictional Tara – a set built on a backlot in Culver City, California – with analyses of urban sites of slavery: Frederick Douglass’s Baltimore, Solomon Northrup’s New Orleans, and Denmark Vesey’s Charleston, among others. We invite papers that investigate the urban locations of slave narratives, Abolitionist agitation, and literary texts as theoretical interventions that complicate the cultural centrality of the plantation. As the United States approaches the sesquicentennial of Emancipation, we are particularly interested in accounts of slavery in the North that contest regional, as well as urban/rural, boundaries. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Urban planning
• Domestic arrangements
• Gendered divisions of labor
• Rebellions and escapes
Proposals of 300 – 500 words should be sent to Jennie Lightweis-Goff (Tulane University) as .pdf files by September 30, 2011. Please send abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org; all submissions will be courteously acknowledged. Queries are also welcomed.
The Northeast Modern Language Association will convene at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester, New York from March 15 - 18, 2012; the convention will be hosted by St. John Fisher College.
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